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I was reading and studying on Micah 6:8 and I'm just a regular guy. I have my translations I prefer and seem to have more credibility, yet the translation for Micah 6:8 has 3 different translations for the 2nd command:

  1. Love Mercy
  2. Love Faithfulness
  3. Love Kindness

In my mind mercy is an outlier and Faithfulness and Kindness are 2nd cousins. Can anyone shed light on why the translation appears so different. Another option to explain how these English words converge on a meaning I haven't considered.

Thanks.

NKJV
He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?

ESV
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

HCSB
Mankind, He has told you what is good
and what it is the Lord requires of you:
to act justly,
to love faithfulness,
and to walk humbly with your God.

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The Hebrew word is חֵסֵד H2617 hesed. It is used 248 times being applied to men and God. In Micah 6, it is applied to man. Brown-Driver-Briggs offers this range of meaning:

1 kindness of men towards men, in doing favours and benefits ...
2 kindness (especially as extended to the lowly, needy and miserable), mercy ...
3 (rarely) affection if Israel to ׳י love to God, piety ...
4 lovely appearance

According to BDB, both "kindness" and "mercy" are valid meanings. However, "faithfulness" is not mentioned. The emphasis here is not on the faithfulness of man.

The immediate context here is justice to fellow men. Micah is calling the people to love and to show mercy and kindness. Take another step back, the context is appeasing God:

6 With what shall I come before the Lord
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?

Jesus confirms this importance of being merciful in Matthew 9:13

But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.'

I'd say that "mercy" is the best translation for Micah 6:8. It is better than sacrifice.

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  • Going to accept your answer thank you. I was also hoping to understand why these large teams of highly trained people decided to use different words. However, I guess any answer would be speculation. – Adam Heeg Mar 7 at 12:28
  • Thank you. No matter how educated a person is, all men have biases. The smart ones are aware of them. – Tony Chan Mar 7 at 14:51
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The requirements of Micah 6:8 are three-fold:

  1. do/act justly
  2. love lovingkindness
  3. walk humbly with God

It is the second that is a little ambiguous because the Hebrew word, חֶ֔סֶד (hessed) is used and is variously translated, "mercy", or better, "lovingkindness". It is a favorite word of the Hebrew authors - see Gen 19:19, 20:13, 21:23, 24:12, 14, etc, etc.

The same trio of virtues is often referenced in the Bible including Jesus who paraphrases this same verse: Matt 23:23, Jer 7:3-6, 9:24, Isa 58:3-14, Zech 7:4-14, Ps 112.

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